Cranberry, muesli & white chocolate cookies

Here is a recipe for some delish cranberry, muesli & white chocolate biscuits I made for a friends birthday recently. I think they would be perfect Christmas biscuits because cranberries always feel so festive. They also have muesli in them which makes them suitable for breakfast. In my opinion.

This recipe is adapted from Taste and you will need

250g softened butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs at room temperature
3 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup white chocolate bits
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup muesli
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy (in an electric mixer). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. It’s important to have the eggs at room temperature so they dont cause the butter to seize up.
Add sifted flour to the butter mixture and then add cranberries, chocolate and muesli. Stir to combine. Roll out walnut sized balls, place them 5 cm apart on the trays and flatten with your palm.Bake for 12-15, swapping trays halfway through cooking, or until golden. Box up, wrap in a bow and give them to someone lovely.

 

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Scouting for Cupcakes

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she has to make cupcakes. Proper, spongy, swirly-frosted cupcakes. For me, that time was last weekend for a dinner with a kidlet in attendance. See I’ve made cupcakes before but only as mini versions of other cakes, like little carrot cakes with a lousy smear of cream cheese frosting or individual lumberjack cakes which are delicious but not proper. I’ve even (gasp) made cupcakes from a packet mix 30 minutes before I am meant to be at a party bearing cupcakes. But nothing compares to the satisfaction of making your own and then licking the spoon. And the bowl. And the piping bag. Huh? What? I didn’t do that, swear!

After a little internet research I couldn’t go past this recipe for Scout’s Cupcakes. They were so famous over at Taste you’d think they’d have their own Twitter account. These cupcakes are delicious, really easy and best of all, there is no creaming of butter and sugar as the fat content comes from thickened cream. So, a big shout out to Scout!

Scout’s Cupcakes

Into a 1 cup metric measuring cup place 2 eggs and fill to the top with thickened cream
Place in a bowl and beat for 1 minute using electric beater
Add 1 splash vanilla essence, 3/4 cup caster sugar and beat for 3 minutes
Sift in 1 cup self raising flour and fold into mixture
Place in 12 patty pans
Bake in a moderate oven (I didn’t use the fan) until light golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre (about 12-15 minutes)

I also used this dark chocolate frosting recipe from Beantown Baker (fabulous!) and topped them with sparkly heart cupcake toppers (recipe here)

A little tip: when making butter frosting always get your milk (or liquid) down to room temperature before adding it to the butter. If not the butter will seize up when it comes into contact with the cold milk and the consistency wont be as smooth.

 

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Getting thrifty with it

I’ve posted before about my love of second hand shopping here but I feel it’s time for another rant. I have pretty much decorated our whole house with awesome thrifty finds and while it’s not everyone’s style it suits me for a lot of reasons (and lucky for me Dave likes it, or graciously tolerates it for my benefit). One reason is I am working within a budget but mostly I like things that are a bit spesh, quirky or interesting. Or just plain pretty to look at. I like things that I think might have stories behind them, something that was someones treasure, something that was made with beautiful craftsmanship. And I find a lot of things that fit that description are second-hand. Sometimes I do wonder though whether I am just filling the house with junk or clutter. Whether someone might walk in, look around and just think “what is this girl doing?

Mandi from Vintage Revivals has written a few great posts on guides to ‘thrifting’ (as they call it in the US of A) and I just love her style and her style philosophy which is to stop worrying what people will think and just surround yourself with things that you love. And she’s right, how can you go wrong really, because if you decorate with what you love, your home with be a true reflection of who you are and what makes you happy. Thrifting is also about compromise and improvisation. For example if we had access to everything we wanted and no budget our house would look different to what it does now (we’d actually be in a different house for starters) but I think the overall style would be very similar. Because I do have to worry about budgets and such I keep ideas and lists of things I love and look out for something similar or something I can DIY or revamp for a much lower cost.

There is also the thrill of the chase and that amazing satisfaction of finding something you’ve been searching for for ages.

Again Mandi (can you tell I think she’s awesome?) has also coined the definition Thrift Shop Glam which is a much better sounding name than ‘all the weird bits and pieces I keep bringing home and putting around the house’.

I do have a few things I am mindful of when I am hunting around second hand shops though and I thought I would share them.

1. Try to know the value of something so you dont over pay but if you love something and you know you won’t find it anywhere else don’t be a tight arse – just buy it. It’s much better to pay, say $20 more than you’d like to if something is AMAZING and one of a kind, than live with regret (like the great cuckoo clock & ten pin incident of 2012), even though $20 can be big money in the second hand world. If you use the Cost Per Wear Index but changed it to Cost Per Smile Every Time You Look At Something For The Rest Of Your Days Index it’s a damn sound investment if you ask me.

2. Shop with your gut. If something connects with you then take that sucker home, even if you don’t know how it will fit into your life yet. Some things just make you take them home because of their shape/colour/material or overall fabulousness.

3. If you’re the crafty type try to keep a mental or actual list of things you’re on the look out for and go through it before you shop because if you have a whole heap of ideas you might forget what you need.

4. Look beyond the reality and focus on the possibility. Do I sound like Confucius? But seriously, it’s not a clapped out old piece of crud you see before you but a potential awesome piece of decor/furniture if you’re willing to clean it, paint it or glue it onto something else.

5. Know your favourites and make sure you cover all your top areas when you go into a shop. My plan of attack goes a little something like this: vintage books with cool covers, vintage/ornate frames and mirrors, vases/glassware, candlesticks, old cameras, the shelves that hold the quirky decor/bits and pieces, interesting clocks, lamps, furniture, artworks, fabric, floor rugs.

4. Sometimes if you want something bad enough it just appears in a second hand shop like a shiny beacon of hope & awesomeness. Take my recent absolute need for a gold and glass coffee/side table for the lounge room (to counter all the brown/wood). Well, on Saturday I walked straight into one that was reduced from $19.95 to $14.95. Granted it isn’t the faux gold bamboo one of my dreams that Nicole from So Haute Style recommends but it satisfies a lot of the criteria – it’s gold, it’s glass, heck it’s even a table. It’s also a little marked but I like to think of that as character.

Remember it’s a game of chance, sometimes you find nothing and sometimes you come home with armfuls of stuff but the more you go the more likely you are you hit the jackpot.

And just to put it out there to the Gods of Thirfting, here are the things on the very top of my list of “the best things I could find in an op shop”: vintage globes, mercury glass, a mounted deer head and the piece de resistance…a Moroccan Wedding Blanket. I can dream can’t I?

Here is a little taste of some of my fabulous finds:

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